Musical Predictions for Round One of the 2010 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Part One: The Eastern Conference Quarterfinals

EDITOR’S NOTE: You guys know I’m not the world’s biggest numbers and analysis hockey guy.  That said, being a hockey site, it would be shammockery if I didn’t have a Stanley Cup Playoff preview.  So, let’s go Buccigross on this and break down each team and their matchup through song.  Tomorrow will be the West, but today will be… you guessed it, the East.  Bear with me.

Eastern Conference

Series A

#8 Montreal Canadiens

“This is quick, but not quite painless.
It sits perched on your arm.  Tacky and irrlevant (so what?)
Drag you out into the streets before you buckle at your knees”
-“What’s it Feel Like to be a Ghost?” by Taking Back Sunday

#1 Washington Capitals

“The enemy is everywhere
The enemy is everywhere
But no one seems to be worried or care
That the enemy is everywhere”
-“Titus Andronicus Forever” by Titus Andronicus

A year has gone by since the Montreal Canadiens were swept by the best team in the Eastern Conference, exposed as a shallow team with inconsistent scoring and little defense.  So, the offense was bulked up a bit with additions like Cammalieri, Gomez and Gionta and the result is… a date in the first round with the best team in the Eastern Conference featuring a team with inconsistent scoring and little defense.

Give the Habs some chance, Gomez comes out to shine in the postseason, even when he’s not playing for a contract.  Gionta can provide a little offense, and Tomas Plekanec can be dangerous.  Jaroslav Halak will steal the Habs a game in Washington.  I’m thinking Game 2, it’ll scare the Caps and their red-infused bandwagon to near tears.

But that’s when the gang will wake up.  Whoever is in goal will become competent once again, Ovechkin will go insane, Backstrom will stake his claim as the poor man’s Crosby to Ovie’s rich man’s Malkin.  Mike Green will stave off criticism about his defensive game, and the Canadiens will be one game better than last season.  Capitals in Five.

Series B

#7 Philadelphia Flyers

“It’s not as easy as willing it all to be right
Gotta’ be more than hoping it’s right.”
“Hands Open” by Snow Patrol

#2 New Jersey Devils

“I’m not the one to admit it’s helpless
I have a sense that we will be alright
I wish for peace with electric silence
To keep our hearts beating on our minds”
-“Young London” by Angels and Airwaves

Similar to Tom Delonge’s much-maligned emo-prog side project Angels and Airwaves, there’s no good reason to think that anyone should like an upset by the Philadelphia Flyers over the New Jersey Devils.  Sure, the teams are fairly well-matched on both offense and defense, but Brodeur over Boucher must be enough to get the Devils over the hump against a team that had to get to a skills competition just to make the playoffs, right?

Well, apparently wrong, as I’ve already heard people picking the Flyers as a first round upset, as the Devils untimely demise at the hands of the Carolina Hurricanes is still seen as evidence that Jersey isn’t built to win it’s third postseason series since a Stanley Cup Win in 2003.  Plus, the Flyers kicked the Devils collective asses around in the regular season, and we all know how meaningful that is.

However, just like all three of Angels and Airwaves’ records, I’m simply not buying it.  Brodeur finished the regular season giving up seven goals in his final seven games.  Ilya Kovalchuk, acquired at the trade deadline, had 27 points in 27 games as a Devils and that was still seen as a bit of a disappointment to many fans.  Zach Parise didn’t have an offensive apocalypse under the supposed defensive systems of Jacques Lemaire, and Travis Zajac had a breakout season.

That’s not to say the Flyers aren’t a scary potential opponent.  Pronger seems to love to test Parise and rough him up a bit.  The Devs will need to find a way to combat the Flyers physicality and keep Daniel Carcillo from wreaking havoc on Kovalchuk, who’s only previous playoff series saw him fall victim to the Avery trap.

However, if the Devils can force the Flyers to take penalties and stay out of the box themselves, they should win this one with relative ease, at least compared to last season.  If you really see Brian Boucher beating Martin Brodeur four times, just remember that he couldn’t do that 10 years ago, when Boucher was considered a premiere goaltending prospect.  A decade later and close to a has-been, I don’t see it changing.  Devils in Six.

Series C

#6 Boston Bruins

“We’re not the same, dear, as we used to be.
The seasons have changed and so have we.
There was little we could say, and even less we could do
To stop the ice from getting thinner under me and you.”
-“The Ice is Getting Thinner” by Death Cab For Cutie

#3 Buffalo Sabres

“Baby, seasons change but people don’t
And I’ll always be waiting in the back room.
I’m boring but overcompensate
With headlines and flash, flash, flash photography
But don’t pretend you ever forget about me.”
-“The Take Over, The Breaks Over” by Fall Out Boy

What a strange change in identity the Boston Bruins have gone through.  They went from dynamic, exciting, lunchpailing rising stars in the Eastern Conference to… a Claude Julien coached team.  The trade for Phil Kessel may land the Bruins a player who will bring them back to the glory days (day?) of Kessel and the B’s being a dynamic goal-scoring club, but fact is they’re now pretty much a heavy defensive system team.  The only thing keeping them from being the Coyotes has been consistent goaltending, which seems to have come in the form of the unproven Tukka Rask.

That said, I’m still not buying the Sabres, who until the Olympics were just as anonymous, falling via an upset.  This appears to be the summer of Miller, and I think he plays as well in the playoffs as he did in the Olympics.  He might come up just short, but with guys like Vanek and Roy able to chip in a couple goals here and there, they certainly won’t be falling to Boston in Round 1.  Sabres in five.

Series D

#5 Ottawa Senators

“Well there is something I gotta say
There is a price you’re gonna pay
Try as hard as you can to stay
You’re just fading, and fading, and fading the fuck away.”
-“Not So Pretty Now” by Nine Inch Nails

#4 Pittsburgh Penguins

“I am heaven sent, don’t you dare forget.
I am all you ever wanted, what all the other boys all promised.”
-“Okay, I Believe You, But My Tommy Gun Don’t by Brand New

It might be hard to conceive, but I felt bad for Marc-Andre Fleury this February.  Ignored as a potential Olympic goaltender because of the former reputation of Martin Brodeur, and the imagined reputation of Roberto Luongo, I kind of secretly felt that Fleury should’ve been the guy giving it a go all along.  If he was good enough to backstop Sid and Geno to a championship, why not Team Canada?

That said, an essential two week break with a chance to hang out with a bunch of guys who’ve won it before couldn’t hurt the already Stanley Cup Champion Pens goalie, which I think will be enough to control a Sens team that, truth be told, is probably the team in the East I’ve seen the least this season.  I don’t know all that much about them, especially now with Alex Kovalev not going to be hanging around and showing up for maybe a second assist in game three.

That said, they have some guys that can score, and Certified Shot Blocking Machine Anton Volchenkov.  But what about the Sens is that much better than the team that succumbed to Pittsburgh two seasons ago in a sweep?  Other than a healthy Daniel Alfredsson, not much.  Penguins in four.

Tomorrow: Part two.

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